Wal-Mart August Sales Beat Expectations

Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday reported a higher-than-expected 3.1 percent rise in August sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year as the retailer cut prices to entice more back-to-school shoppers.

Analysts, on average, were expecting the company's U.S. same-store sales to rise 1.6 percent, according to Reuters Estimates, while Wal-Mart had forecast August sales to increase between 1 percent and 2 percent.

Wal-Mart is working to improve sales after attempts last year to play down its discount roots and sell higher-margin goods, like trendy clothes and home decor, backfired with its lower-income consumers.

In July, it announced price cuts of as much as 50 percent on 16,000 items such as school supplies and backpacks, to jump-start back-to-school sales.

Wal-Mart said that the price cuts helped spur sales of back-to-school items, including electronics and children's apparel in August.

Net sales in the four weeks that ended August 31 rose 9.3 percent to $28.22 billion.

For September, Wal-Mart expects U.S. same-store sales to rise between 1 percent and 3 percent.